Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) helps companies to be socially accountable to themselves, their stakeholders, and the public. With CSR, a company can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of the society, including economic, social and environmental.
It represents the company’s efforts to align its corporate values with those of its surrounding community and environment.
CSR at least covers human rights, labour and employment practices (such as training, diversity, gender equality and employee health and well-being), environmental issues (biodiversity, climate change, resource efficiency, life-cycle assessment, pollution prevention…), and combating bribery and corruption. Community involvement and development, the integration of disabled persons, and consumer interests, including privacy, are also part of the CSR agenda.
The economic crisis and its social consequences have to some extent damaged consumer confidence and levels of trust in business. It has focused public attention on the social and ethical performance of enterprises.
All organisations and enterprises need to be trusted by citizens. Unfortunately there is often a gap between citizens’ expectations and what they perceive to be the reality of business behaviour. This gap is caused partly by instances of irresponsible behaviour by some enterprises, as well as by cases of some enterprises exaggerating their environmental or social credentials. Sometimes it is caused by an insufficient understanding on the part of some enterprises of fast evolving societal expectations, as well as by an insufficient awareness on the part of citizens of the achievements of enterprises and the constraints under which they operate.
Innovative, effective and well-communicated CSR policies can help bridge the gap and impact positively on competitiveness. CSR is about more than philanthropy – it is a strategic way of using your company’s resources to make a real difference in your community, while having a positive impact on your team and the bottom line.